Archive for the ‘Washington DC’ Category

>A Tale of Two Cities

January 5, 2011

>Actually, the governments operating in two cities.

The biggest problems facing the government are financial. Huge debts are looming. There’s talk of default, and the consequences.

There are new people in government who can rightly say that they didn’t cause this problem.

So how are these problems being handled?

It depends on which government you are referring to.

Both our local Bessemer mayor and city council and the President and Congress are facing similar issues, but their approaches to solving problems are very different.

In Washington today marks the start of a new congress, and Republican leaders in the House are ignoring the economy and the national debt and the deficit and are focusing on repealing the health care plan that, besides allowing millions of previously uninsured people to be covered, will reduce the deficit by $1,300,000,000,000 ($1.3 trillion) over the next 20 years, create 400,000 jobs a year over the next decade, and in general improve the economy.

In other words, kill jobs, increase the deficit and at the same time, deny people health care.

In Bessemer the sins of the previous administration are coming to light. At each council meeting, it seems that additional disturbing information about money the city owes vendors, or revenues that are not coming in, or important budget/financial information that was kept from the council and public, is revealed.

This finally reached a crescendo last night during the citizens participation portion of the council meeting when a member of the audience went to the podium and pretty much castrated the former mayor and council (one of whom is still on the council and was sitting right in front of him*); the former mayor for keeping information to himself and the council for not being aggressive enough. He said he might not have been “lied” to, but he certainly feels he was misled over the past few years. Misled to the point that now he doesn’t know if Bessemer will be a better place for his children.

(*there are actually 2 members of the former council still in office, but one was not present)

Based on what I heard last night from the mayor and from every council member, either in private conversation or during the council meeting, this group is committed to working together, exploring all options, operating in transparency, and solving the huge problems that lie ahead.

And I think that any vendor that is owed money by the city will appreciate their attitude and be more likely to work with the city regarding payment.

The man at the podium and others in the audience (who applauded after he spoke) expressed their approval for this mayor and this council, not because of any results they have produced, but because we recognize their determination to solve the crisis and because we have the confidence that they can do it.

So, if you want to get your blood pressure up, watch Congress this week, where hypocrisy and showmanship will be on display, and the needs of the people will be ignored.

If you want to see how government should work, and how problems can be solved, come to the Bessemer city council meetings, where the livelihoods of the citizens and their quality of life is of great concern to the members. It’s refreshing, and you don’t often hear that about government activities.

Celine Dion – “A New Day Has Come”

>The National Cathedral, and a thought about Langford

October 19, 2009

>Just a thought as LaLa’s trial begins in Tuscaloosa. Frank Matthews, a paid employee of the city, and member of Langford’s staff, held a prayer vigil for the “anointed” one yesterday.

From Matthew 6:6:

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

The Rev. Calvin Woods made it no secret that he wants God to find the mayor of Birmingham not-guilty.

Shouldn’t the leaders and residents be praying for the city (and county) rather than, by prayer, trying to convince God to determine the outcome of a trial?

Just a thought.

The National Cathedral might just be the most beautiful building in all of DC. It took 83 years to build, so has modern elements along with classic Gothic architecture. It is the sixth largest cathedral in the world. There is a ton of imagery and symbolism, too much to post here, but here are some of my favorite images.

The wonderful stained glass windows in the cathedral allow a rainbow of color to tint the vaulting and piers that support the roof.

The Space Window is the most modern looking window and it commemorates the Apollo XI mission, and right in the center of that red spiral is a piece of moon rock brought back by the crew. This window is in some way mentioned in Dan Brown’s new book The Lost Symbol (I haven’t read the book).

Helen Keller is interred here, alongside Anne Sullivan, her teacher, downstairs at the rear of the Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea. Their ashes are behind that gated doorway.

In the War Memorial Chapel, this piece, made from WW II artillery shells from Normandy sets the tone. To the right of this alter is a cupboard of books containing the Honor Roll of Americans who fought in World War II.

This arm rest was carved several years before Winston Churchill came to power, but it shows a lion with the face of Churchill clutching a snake with the face of Hitler in its mouth. Sorry the picture is not in good focus, you will just have to visit the Cathedral to see this better. The snake really does have a moustache.

This is the view from the tower. I only post this picture because just to the right of the middle of the horizon, the little stob sticking up is the Washington Monument.

An cropped image taken from that picture.

>Western Tribune column October 14, 2009, war memorials

October 14, 2009

>I am adding some pictures from my recent trip to DC to this column. For pictures from the National Equality March see my (first) article about the event here.

Western Tribune column

While in the nation’s capital I was able to revisit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and to visit for the first time the National World War II Memorial.

Having grown up during the Vietnam War I feel fortunate that none of my close friends or older brothers died in that conflict. But like most Americans who are old enough I remember watching day after day the news reports about the conflict, and anyone of my generation can’t help but be moved knowing that so many our lives were affected by it.

Nearby the more recently constructed National World War II Memorial stands as a testament to those of my father’s generation who fought and gave their lives to protect our freedoms. Water and structure combine to reflect the Atlantic and Pacific theatres of that war, and there is too much imagery to describe in this column.

But one aspect of the memorial deserves mention. On the walls are bas relief depictions of various aspects of the war effort in both Europe and the Pacific. On the Atlantic side the progression ends with a scene in which the American forces and the Russian forces meet with a handshake in Germany.

It is an interesting scene in light of the commie scare coming from a letter writer who claims that communists were accumulating in the State Department “from before World War II until today because of our support of Russia and her leaders.”

While cooperation between the United States and Russia was necessary to defeat the Germans it can hardly be said that we have supported Russia in all the years since. Ever hear of the “Cold War”?

I shouldn’t be wasting my time trying to refute someone who re-writes history to fit their agenda.

Over the weekend President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Everyone, including the president’s staff, was caught off guard with this recognition, and some are saying it’s a little early for a peace prize seeing how the president has yet to decide whether to ramp up the effort in Afghanistan or begin to bring the troops home.

But those who voted for that award are recognizing Obama’s commitment to peaceful solutions where possible. We will have to wait and see what he decides for Afghanistan.

And in a few decades, I suppose my children will be visiting a memorial commemorating the efforts in that war and the Iraq war.